News Headlines

News Headlines
Health care news from around the state and nation

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Administration Bars Health Plans That Won’t Cover Hospital Care
National Public Radio

The Obama administration has blocked health plans without hospital benefits that many large employers argued fulfilled their obligations under the Affordable Care Act.

Companies with millions of workers, mainly in lower-wage industries such as staffing, retailing, restaurants and hotels that hadn’t offered health coverage previously, had been flocking toward such insurance for 2015.

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The Funders Who Can Claim Some Credit for the Massive Uptick in ACA Enrollment
Inside Philanthropy

Back in the spring of 2013, when plans for the first enrollment period for ACA were underway, funders were skittish about the public knowing of their support for enrollment efforts, fearing negative backlash from conservative critics. Now, with the White House’s recent announcement that 11.4 million Americans have successfully signed up for Obamacare, funders are more openly acknowledging their support for enrollment efforts.

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Survey: Uninsured rate hit new low in 2014
Modern Healthcare

The share of Americans without health insurance dropped to its lowest level in seven years in 2014 as President Barack Obama’s overhaul took full effect, according to an extensive survey released Tuesday.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index found that the trend appears likely to continue this year, since 55 percent of those who remained uninsured told the pollster they plan to get coverage rather than face escalating tax penalties.

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Covered CA delays dental benefits
Orange County Register

Adults hoping to purchase dental insurance through Covered California will have to wait until at least next year because of problems with the health exchange’s computer system.

“We do not anticipate there will be adult dental added in 2015. We’re looking at that in 2016,” said Peter Lee, executive director of Covered California.

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Medicare may penalize Advantage plans for faulty provider lists
Modern Healthcare

The CMS plans to more closely monitor Medicare Advantage insurers’ provider networks and may fine or otherwise sanction plans that don’t accurately show which doctors are available at in-network prices.New provisions related to provider networks and directories were included in the agency’s proposed 2016 rate notice (PDF), released last Friday. Medicare Advantage payments will drop 0.95% on average, but when accounting for higher risk scores based on coding patterns, health plans on average will receive a 1.05% increase.

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California congressman wants hearing on superbug outbreak
San Francisco Chronicle

Congress should launch an investigation into what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is doing to prevent additional superbug infections after a deadly outbreak at a Los Angeles hospital linked to tainted medical scopes, a lawmaker said Monday. U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., sent a letter asking the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to hold a hearing on the issue, which he said “poses both health and national security risks.” The committee oversees the FDA.

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Collaborative effort aids vaccination rates: study
Modern Healthcare

Sending reminders to parents to get their children vaccinated was more effective and cost-efficient when physicians collaborated with public health departments compared with practice-based notification efforts, a new study found.The study appeared online Monday in JAMA Pediatrics. Vaccination rates around the country have come under increased focus in recent weeks in light of the current measles outbreak that has infected 154 people in 17 states between Jan. 1 and Feb. 20, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Marin vaccine skipping raises concerns of polio resurgence
Marin Independent Journal

Russ Ketron of Novato walks with the aid of a heel lift because his right leg is atrophied, the lingering reminder of his polio diagnosis in 1951 at the age of 7. When Ketron learned that 11 percent of Marin kindergartners are not vaccinated against polio, he said, “That’s tragic.”

The measles outbreak originating in Disneyland brought that disease into the public eye in recent months. But the county’s immunization rates for polio are also concerning, officials say.

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EHRs and the Paper Monster
Health Leaders Media

While electronic health records are helping to move the industry toward being paperless, the goal remains elusive, if not unlikely. Complicating the effort is that certain documents, including those created and forwarded by payers, researchers, and administrators, live outside the electronic health record.

The EHRs themselves have limited capabilities to search and organize scanned paper records, many of which are still stored as images, while others go through optical character recognition (OCR) or intelligent character recognition (ICR) in order to be indexed and searched.

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Weight Loss Fines Are Discriminatory and Counterproductive
The Health Care Blog

One year ago in these pages, Harvard Medical School’s Stephen Soumerai wrote a scathing essay arguing that employer fines on overweight employees were ineffective. We’re here to tell you that Professor Soumerai is a cockeyed optimist. A new review in the American Journal of Managed Care shows that these fines transcend ineffectiveness. They are counterproductive.

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Accreditation ensures pharmacy school achieves highest standards
Orange County Register

The path toward establishing a health professional doctoral degree program for a profession that generates graduates who literally have people’s lives in their hands is a long one – and one that takes extraordinary commitments by individuals and organizations. Like physicians, nurses and others in primary care, pharmacists make decisions constantly on medication use by patients. If these health care providers’ decisions are wrong, they can lead to new health challenges and even the death of patients.

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Medical office building breaking ground in Roseville soon
Sacramento Business Journal

Work should begin soon a new three-story office building intended for medical users in Roseville. Tanner Industries will be the builder for the 33,000-square-foot building behind an existing retail property, north of where Sierra College Boulevard meets Douglas Boulevard. The building will get underway as soon as the first tenant is signed, said Tyler Jerde, office leasing and sales broker with Turton Commercial Real Estate in Roseville.

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